Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: Do I have to disclose a lay off in my cover letter?

I got laid off yesterday from a job where I had sort of seen it coming. They nicely told me it was absolutely no fault of my own and that all my work for the company had been fantastic, but with the reorganization of the department, my role was becoming far more junior and they wanted to rehire for that.

I know everyone says it’s always easier to find a job when you have a job, and I have started hunting — but what do I do moving forward? Should I address this in cover letters when it’s clear I’m currently working nowhere? I was laid off as part of a reorg. Should I ignore this in cover letters? I don’t want potential employers to think I was laid off because of anything I did.

A: Don’t get into it your cover letter; your cover letter shouldn’t be about why you left your last job, but why you’re interested in and would be great at the job you’re applying for.

Employers who want to know why you left will ask, and you can explain it then. But loads of people have been laid off, and it’s not something you need to proactively explain in your application materials.

Read More: Here’s a real-life example of a great cover letter (with before and after versions!)

Q: My coworker keeps encroaching on my desk

I sit next to a more junior colleague who has been encroaching on my desk space. She likes to use big hard-backed files and she uses some of my desk space to accommodate them while she’s working with them. I tried moving my in-tray and other items over to the side of my desk, where it adjoins her desk, in an attempt to create a physical barrier.

It doesn’t work. She uses them to prop up her own papers and folders. If that side of my desk is clear (as we are required to lock our in trays away at night) she will just use the space. As I start work after her, I either have to slide her stuff back to her own desk or ask her to move it. It’s a stressful way to start the day.

Read More: If you’re not getting interviews, read this

Today I decided to address the pattern of behavior as a whole. I explained that it might seem weird but I am someone who likes to have their space clearly defined. She seemed to acknowledge that and immediately moved her things.

10 minutes later she reverted to form. I had to lift the cover of her folder away from my area and balance it on my arm to fish in my own in tray for what I needed. Ridiculous. I then moved her folder, making sure she noticed – she was on a conference call so I couldn’t address her directly.

10 minutes later the same happened again, and this time I got completely exasperated and made a bigger show of closing her folder and shoving it back to her desk. I gave her an imploring look – she was still on the phone.

How should I handle this?

Read More: My coworker asked me not to eat lunch at my desk

A: Repetition. Every time it happens, slide her stuff back over or tell her too. And be direct: “Jane, your stuff is in my space again. Please move it.” … “We have tiny desks here, and you’re making mine one-third smaller.” … “Your files are back.” … etc. If she’s anything approaching a reasonable person, a few days of doing this will get her to permanently stop.

Also, she’s being rude. You might feel rude by continuing reminding her about this, but you’re not the one being rude — don’t let let that get shifted to you along with the folders.

These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some have been edited for length.

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